Macbeth at the Queen’s, a tragedy of darkness and suspense.

Macbeth is listed as being one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays; but what it might lack in length is certainly made up for in dramatic storytelling. This co-production is with Derby Theatre and will eventually go to Scotland itself. 

The house lights went down and smoke and eerie music caught the imaginative and innovative staging whereupon the three witches arrive and the saga begins.

Whilst the witches are grouped Macbeth and Banquo arrive and inform Macbeth that he will become Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland; they also tell Banquo that he will sire children that will become kings but he will never become king himself. Macbeth and Banquo hasten to Duncan, King of Scotland, who having heard of their brave efforts in vanquishing the treacherous Thane of Cawdor,  pronounces Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor and at the same time pronounces Malcolm, his son the future King. Macbeth leaves Duncan and heads to his Castle in Inverness to meet his wife.

He has written to his wife to tell her of the witches’ prophecy and she prepares in her mind that her husband should kill Duncan when he visits them at their castle. Duncan arrives with his party and during the night Macbeth slays him and his servants as they sleep, in an effort to show that they were killing the King so Macbeth killed them. Malcolm and Donalbain, the King’s sons on hearing of the brutal murder of their father flee the area in case the murderers come after them.  With this Macbeth is duly crowned King of Scotland.Macbeth then remembers the Witches words that Banquo will sire Kings and send his henchman to murder him and his son Fleance; Banquo is slain but Fleance escapes. That night at the feast table Banquo appears as a ghost but only to Macbeth who is shaken by the experience.

Macbeth goes into the night and visits the witches upon the blasted heath, who show him a series of apparitions and lead him to believe that he will be defeated. This alas, proves false as Malcolm and his loyal friend MacDuff having joined forces in exile have raised and army to attack Macbeth’s castle Dunsinane.Lady Macbeth, riddled by a guilty conscience has begun sleepwalking and washing her hands to try and wash the bloodstains from her.Macduff attacks the castle and kills Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is murdered and Malcolm announced as the rightful King of Scotland.This production is superbly acted with the dramatic fury oozing from the cast as they convey the emotions and nuances of the play.

The cast seldom rose to shouting which led them to use the lines as a force and only when the final part of the tragedy comes about were the voices rightly raised.

The clarity of speech was excellent, I was sitting at the back of the theatre and heard everything very well.

The costumes, lighting, and staging were minimalist but added so much to this excellent production.

From the casting point Phoebe Sparrow and Paul Tinto as Lady and Lord Macbeth had depth and gravitas and held the stage superbly. The Three Witches Danielle Kassarate’, Colette McNulty and Connie Walker, were eerily captivating, and Tilda Wickham played Malcolm with an understated force.

Adam Karim as Banquo took a lot of the plaudits from me, especially in the scene where he appears as the Ghost, his movement without words conveyed a ghastly presence, shaking Macbeth to the core.

However, the cast as a whole must be congratulated on their seamless transitions into other costumes and characters without any loss of fluidity to the piece. Dounglas Rintoul and Derby Theatre must be praised for this project along with all the backstage staff without whom this production would not possible to this high standard.

The three witches with Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth.

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